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The 8th Tromsø
International Film Festival

January 21st - 25th 1998 (part I)

This year the city of Tromsø - one of the most sympathetic places in Norway, despite the real horror-show climatical and weatherlike conditions - could wish lovers (and addicts) of moving images welcome for the 8th time, to Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF), or the Arctic Film Festival (Tromsø; almost at 70° N, which means this must be one of the northernmost festivals worldwide?) as it now also is called. TIFF gives you a great chance to get a taste of what's going on in "World Cinema", as they tend to present movies from all over the world, with the exception of Hollywood. Cimemas across most of Europe are so dominated by American turkeys and dinosaurs and light-weight entertainment, so predictable that it makes you wonder: what have we done to deserve this? Film festivals like TIFF are the oasis' where you get to see films made in countries like Macedonia, Taiwan, Hungary, Egypt, Croatia, Argentina, Turkey, Cuba, and many others. This year 50 movies from about 30 different countries were presented. Here's a handful of them. Join in on a slight sightseeing for sore eyes.

Stella Does Tricks
(Great Britain 1996)
Directed by Coky Giedroyc. Written by Alison Kennedy.
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, James Bolam, Ewan Stewart, Hans Mathison, and others.

Stella (Kelly MacDonald) is a teen-age prostitute living in London, fighting for survival in a pretty messed-up and brutal life. After growing up with her father, a stand-up comedian, and a horribly strict aunt, Stella tries to get a life on her own. Only to find herself humiliated for a living. Finally she decides to break away from her medieval pimp, Mr. Peters (James Bolam). A tender and caring man, almost like being a fatherly figure, yet, being nothing but a grim and cynical bastard, with a liking for young girls. Stella's boyfriend Eddie (Hans Mathieson), on the dole and addicted to heroin, isn't making life easier for her. Anyway, Stella does some tricks and seeks to get revenge on the people stirring up her life. Yes, the setting is rather grey and sad, but yet this film shows optimism, believe it or not. Because Stella believes she can come through the harsh reality, by showing life force. Kelly Macdonald (the young girl in Trainspotting) is brilliant as Stella, and the film scores on a credible production of portraying life on the unsunny side. Of course by using some rather dark humor to fight evil. Such as when Stella offers one of her "clients" a pill (a suppository) to feel "free and easy", and the unsuspecting man (lying naked on his stomach on the bed) gets a Fisherman's Friend tucked in! The strongest there is... Nice trick, Stella!

Tutti giù per terra (Eng. title: We All Fall Down)
(Italy 1997)
Written and directed by Davide Ferrario, based on a novel by Giuseppe Culicchia.
Starring: Valerio Mastandrea, Carlo Monnni, Benedetta Massini, Caterina Casselli, plus others.

Walter, 20-something, is trying to figure out what to do with his life. Living with his parents in Torino, he hasn't got a job, nor has he got a girlfriend. But being a virgin doesn't bother him much. At least he doesn't have to worry about premature ejaculation. His best and only friend is his aunt, she's the only one that understands him and the vacuumed life he walks through. Walter decides to study, but he doesn't seem to fit in at the University either. His father is nagging, desperately hoping his son to become "normal", which means "get a job, get a wife, make a family".
Tutti giù per terra is an amusing film, about how you're expected to get in line to fit into a pattern decided by the modern society and the rules that are given to lead a regular life. Walter floats around, gazing at the chaos that surrounds him (and us), commenting everything rather ironically. Valerio Mastandrea (as Walter) does an excellent performance, and is claimed to be the up-and-coming actor in Italian cinema. The film is dedicated to the memory of the British director Lindsay Anderson (who died in 1994). Enjoyable!

coverpic Topless Women Talk About Their Lives
(New Zealand 1997)
Written and directed by Harry Sinclair.
Starring: Danielle Cormack, Joel Tobeck, Ian Hughes, Willa O'Neill, Shimpal Lelisi, Andrew Binns, plus others.

A witty title, and a witty film. And it's not about breasts! Actually Topless Women... is the title of a script written by one of the characters we meet, Ant (Hughes); a man way beyond being far out and paranoid! This film was described as "Friends (yes, the American sit.-com.) down under". Not quite true. But anyway, we are presented for a group of friends living in New Zealand, and get to follow them through their every day life. Which means absurd and humorous episodes, mixed with more serious problems in life.
Liz (Cormack) gets pregnant, and when missing the chance to go through an abortion, she tries to decide which one of her two latest boyfriends will be the most fitting father of her child. Ant's film project gets realized, by German fundings, and of course it flops. Imagine a film about women (a mechanic, a sheep farmer, plus, plus) from New Zealand telling (bare-breasted) about their lives and what they do - on German, by German actors. There are lots of funny and touching episodes, but it's hard to re-tell them. Go check out the film yourself, if you get the chance. Topless Women... presents a most excellent soundtrack from the Flying Nun Records stable, including instant Kiwi-rock classics by The Bats, The Clean, 3D's, Snapper, Chris Knox, and many others. A fine debut by director Sinclair, who's working on a new film entitled Pink Frost. Inspired by the song by the Chills, I guess?

INTERMISSION (Chill out, stretch yer legs, and check under desserts for the TIFF festival report part II)

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